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Daytime Emmys: New Categories Honor Digital, Musical Achievements

The Daytime Emmys are growing again this year, but only by a couple of categories.

“I think we have 87 this year, which is a lot of categories,” says David Michaels, senior VP of the Daytime Emmy Awards. “I can’t remember the last time we deleted one, but we increased by two this year, including the addition of a second lifetime achievement category.”

That new lifetime achievement award is in the creative arts field. “It’s to honor a behind-the-scenes person who’s had a lifetime of contributing to a show or several shows, not just a front-of-the-camera person.”

Both lifetime honorees will be named in March, but the new award Michaels is most excited about is the outstanding musical performance in a talk show/morning program. “If you think about the kinds of guests that are on ‘The Today Show,’ ‘Good Morning America’ and all of the talk shows, the entries in that category are like a who’s who of the recording industry, so no matter who gets nominated, that category’s going to be on fire,” he says. There will be a minimum of five nominees, but the number could go up.

The Daytime Emmys have made additional changes to accommodate digitally streamed programs. “The world of Web soaps is ever increasing and exploding,” Michaels says. “Last year we noticed the talent category was completely out of control. It was just performer in a digital drama, so we split it into actor in a digital drama and actress in a digital drama so it would be a little more manageable for the judges. And it’s still huge.”

Next year, he says they might opt to do a pre-nomination round to narrow the field to 10 digital performers per category, as they do with the traditional acting categories. “There are a lot of familiar faces on those shows, they’re beautiful shows, and the production values are unbelievably wonderful,” he adds.

The reason digital dramas weren’t included with traditional soaps to begin with is that ― serial storylines aside ― they place different demands on cast and crew. “We wanted to keep it a fair competition,” Michaels says, “and I’d say on average the digital dramas do maybe six to 12 episodes a year, where the network soaps do 256. Nobody felt it was fair to compare them.”

Digital programs are shaking things up among talk shows and kiddie fare, too. “We’re about to launch the blue ribbon panel voting, and there’s an inordinate, extraordinary number of entries from Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, especially in the children’s area,” he says. “I predict you’re going to see a lot of nominations from those outlets.”

Decisions to add, delete or even tweak categories aren’t taken lightly. “Two years ago we split (talk show) host into two categories (entertainment and informative),” Michaels says. “It used to be all the hosts were lumped together, but we decided that wasn’t fair.”

Suggestions are accepted from people throughout the daytime community, and the best ideas are presented, in great detail, to the national awards committee for consideration and possible approval. “I think when there is resistance from the awards committee, it’s because everyone is aware that we don’t want a proliferation of Emmys; you don’t want to dissipate the importance of them,” he says. “So if we’re adding something new, we need everyone to agree that it’s an absolute necessity.”

Michaels believes the need to shake up categories now and then underscores the importance of daytime programming. “I believe anyone who doesn’t say that daytime is alive and well is mistaken. It’s changing, certainly, but it’s still a very vital part of this industry.”

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